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Songwriter Exercise 3 - Set Meter for Songwriter Dynamic

Determine Your Next Song's Emotional Target

"Step 1: Understand your song's dynamic."

What type of song are you making? ...which music genre again?"

What type of song are you creating? Are you making a "doo-wop", "dance", "jig" or "ballad"? The genre of song you've chosen to make - as well as the emotion you've chosen to express - has strong influence on your songwriter dynamic.

"Songwriter Dynamic is different from Songwriting Tempo [the "speed" of your song in a stretch of time],

Songwriter Dynamic is the "character" of your song; the "way" your song flows in a stretch of time.

For better illustration, imagine this:

> Imagine yourself going down your neighborhood street...simply heading to end of your street and back. If you have 2 good limbs, notice that you move with a unique dynamic: 1 step at a time.

> Now imagine yourself gingerly skipping down the same street; same speed. But now your movement has changed to "1 & 1/2 steps at a time".

Songwriter Dynamic has the same effect in changing the way your song moves...and we use "Time Signatures" to show this rhythm.

Time Signatures

We set "time signatures" to communicate our song's Meter [the "Music Theory" term for Songwriter Dynamic]. A “time signature” sets the number of beats a tempo has before it repeats.

In songwriting tempo, I showed you a clock’s ticks are equal to 60 Beats per Minute.

Here's another look at the clock from Songwriting tempo exercise.

...In that example, we assumed there were four (4) beats in the tempo before it repeats: “1…, 2…, 3…, 4…” This is the most common songwriter dynamic use, called “4/4”, “Common” or “Natural” Meter; just count out four (4) beats and repeat.

But you are free to change the number of beats to influence the character of your song! For instance:


"Step 2: Once again, tap at 120 BPM..."

Remember 120 BPM is twice as fast as 60 BPM, so tap your thigh on, AND between each tick...only this time, count in groups of three (3): "1…, 2…, 3…, 1…, 2…, 3…,”

...We remove 1 beat and create a "Waltz" dynamic; to help you understand Songwriting Dynamic.

...By removing one (1) beat from our count we change our songwriter dynamic into a “Waltz”!

Songwriter Dynamic is just as important as Tempo in express your song's emotion


"Step 3: Choose Your Songwriter Dynamic."

So do you know the best dynamic for your song?

Since your beat pattern is responsible for keeping your song’s timing, it’s important to use time signature to communicate it's unique dynamic.

  • 1st number = # of beats in the pattern before it repeats

  • 2nd number = type of note/beat

The following chart is a simple overview of popular time signature usage:

Time Signature usage table. View Popular songwriting examples and choose your songwriter dynamic.

I'm not going to explain all the different types of music notes - as that would require going into Music Theory. Just pick a time signature you feel gives the best songwriter dynamic for your song’s genre and emotion.

Next, use your metronome [here's Dirk's Metronome will help find your songwriting tempo.] - and tap make sure you still have the best songwriting tempo.


Final Word:

“Setting a Songwriter Dynamic is not necessary if you want to write a "common" song. Because most of today's songs are written in "4/4", so it's not necessary to know all the different Time Signatures.

Let's continue with your next songwriter exercise: songwriting sections."

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